Friday, October 31, 2008

And the Winner Is...

I really do pick the names out of a box and take a picture of the name I picked, then I email the person and post the winner and when they reply with their addy its a done deal.

Mary won the hollow pendant!
And Lea won the pumpkin and bat marbles!

Hope everyone has a very happy Halloween weekend. Its cold and rainy here in Portland, so I'm trying hard to stay positive and think happy thoughts. Words like: Enjoy! And big happy smiles.

Apple Cider Brewing

In honor of Halloween and all the festivities... I thought I would write a little about my cider that is brewing.

A couple of weeks ago we went to the apple festival at the Portland Nursery and bought 6 gallons of fresh pressed cider. We drank two of them :)After dragging them to Tim's place on foot (we borrowed one of the nurseries wagons to cart the cider home) the brewing process began.
First the cider was boiled with honey and ginger and champagne yeast. After sterilizing all the bits and pieces, the cooked cider was cooled and transfered into the carboy and left to settle. Tim has a fun little tiny apartment on Hawthorne that has an old bachelor kitchen with new appliances. There is a spot in his cupboards that must have been an old "ice-box" (you know, pre-refrigerator kinda thing)that perfectly fits the carboy with the air-lock on top. You can close the door to this cup-board and not have to smell the funk at all! Its so perfect!

For the first week or two this concoction bubbled and stirred like mad!
It was a yeasty dance going on inside that carboy. Kinda crazy. Its calmed down quite a bit now. In the next few weeks it will settle a lot, all the sediment gathering at the bottom.Believe it or not - but this will go clear in the next few weeks, by the time we drink it there will be no color left at all.

Hard cider is pretty easy to make if you have all the brewing equipment around. It just takes a bit more patience than normal beer brewing. In a month or so we will separate the brewed liquid from the sediment and then let it sit some more (although Tim thinks we could simply skip this step and go straight to bottling and let there be a little sediment in the bottle, I wrinkle my nose at this). Then once its clear we mix with more honey and bottle. This added honey will allow the cider to carbonate in the bottles. I like fizzy hard cider, non fizzy is an option, you just skip the last step and simply bottle.

I've done this once before. Starting in October when the apple cider is fresh here in Oregon and then popping open the bottles in May for my birthday. So its a long fermentation process, much longer than beer. Supposedly the longer you let it sit the better it tastes. Honestly the first time I made it, the stuff turned out like moon-shine! It didn't taste like the store-bought stuff either, it wasn't sweet at all, more like a wine than the cider I was expecting... but my oh my it was good!

We are making a honey ginger hard cider. Yummy. The cider itself (non-alcoholic style) is delicious, so I can hardly imagine what it will taste like when its done!

Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Taking a Hike in MacCleay Park

Much needed break time. Seriously, holiday prep makes me tired.

I checked out MacCleay Park this Wednesday. There's a beautiful hiking trail that put us right to the Audubon Society . We said hi to the birds. Ruby the Turkey Vulture here danced for us, although she didn't perform so nicely for the camera!

Theres an incredible old stone building about a mile out in the woods that was a bathroom, but in the 60's the plumbing was all messed up by trees falling down and up-rooting. Now the building is a skeleton of what it once was. There are ferns growing right out of the stones, its quite beautiful.I liked this park very much. There's a creek, the Balch creek, evidently the City of Portland's first water supply. We saw trout in the creek, they are a protected bunch the "Cutthroat Trout". Oh and there is a really really tall Douglas Fir in this park, supposedly the tallest in any American city, 241ft tall. It was huge and beautiful. And there is a beautiful bridge that runs over the park, with a red metal sculpture that kinda reminds me of Calder out in the grassy field.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Glass Give-Away for Halloween!

Hey heres a quick chance to win some glass - give-away ends on Friday Oct 31st, 2008.

Win a set of these little marbles - a bat and a pumpkin face! - Enjoy!

All you need to do is leave a comment here (and your email address if you are commenting anonymously) and spread the word - Thanks!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Today at the Glass Studio...

My friend Jan and I played around today with the idea of printing on glass. She brought over a bunch of blocks she has carved over the years and between her inking skills and my glass skills, I think we are going to make some super sweet art glass!!!

I'm so exciting, bubbling with ideas. I posted pictures on my flickr... here is a video, you can see a bunch of the beautiful blocks she brought to play with.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Glass Murini Cane

This Wednesday I am doing some live torchworking at my local elementary school where my friend runs the Sun program. Its family night and the gym is always crazy with pumpkin paint and pizza. I am torchworking outside, I've done this for 4 or 5 years now, making little halloween trinkets for the kids while they watch and the parents can buy them as a fund raiser for the school library.

Kids cannot resist a flame, and they are intrigued by glass. I must admit, I agree with them!
So every year I try and do something different (especially since the kids remind me each year of what silly thing I made the year before, and they come back expecting something new to add to their collection, happily listing to me what they already have). And may I add, I have to make something fast and efficient and not tooo boring (is it possible for glass to be boring? yes). Because the kids line up, snake-tailing around and waiting not-so-patiently for their turn to buy a little thing that I have made. Yes seriously folks, its kinda crazy. I've tried bringing things I've made in advance (one year I did orange and black beads - soft glass beads so they had to be annealed - and then I strung them on a headpin and put each one on a key chain for the kids - I didn't want them to swallow the beads! - and I did all this in advance so the kids could simply buy them, no waiting around in line for me to make one for each kid) and honestly they were confused and not so pleased that I would not allow them to buy the beads I was making as demonstrations.

So its gotta be borosilicate, its gotta be small (the littlest kids are not appropriate to buy the creations, I don't want them to eat them) its gotta be simple, fast and efficient - and its gotta be all about Halloween.

I did little pumpkins one year, and the next year glow in the dark ghost pendants, then little mushroom pendants (I figured the autumn type theme kinda seemed Halloween oriented - hey I was running out of ideas!), and last year little orange and black beads.

This year I thought I'd make a couple of simple murini canes, so I can make the kids little marbles and simply pick up a little murini disc on the end of a clear gather. This process is super fast and pretty effective. Good for short attention spans and early bed times (family night for Halloween night - kids gotta get home and go to bed). Its impressive the way a tiny disc of color on the side of the glass looks like a pumpkin face when viewed through the marble - the optical effect is like a magnifying lens.

So the murinis I had in mind were a pumpkin face and a bat.

In these pictures you can see the canes that I made - they are not too spectacular but they get the point across. A recognizable pumpkin face (although he has a Snoopy nose and a weird smile) and a bat (the bat is pretty ghetto, but hey, it ended up looking like a bat!) the white bits you see in the picture are bubblesThe idea of a murini cane is that the image you see at the end of the rod continues down the length of the cane. You cut up the can into little discs and then each disc has the image on it. A flower murini would be called "Millifiori", Italian for "millions of flowers" as each can could be cut up into millions of little flowers.
So on Wednesday I will make marbles for the kids at Shaver Elementary. They will get to choose between bats and pumpkins. I'll bet the boys go for the bats. I don't know whether they will be pleased with my little creations, I just hope they don't eat them or stick them up their noses!

You know the best part of this: the kids are all in costume - so I get to see all the little ones in their outfits, its quite cute. Makes me squeal occasionally.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Shout out on Cookie

check me out - good company inthis roundup of handcrafted mobiles!

Newly Listed

Check it out - now available in my Etsy shop - Jelly Belly

ps. Thanx for the name!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Art Hanging on My Walls

This is a painting my mother made of me back in 1992, I was 14. We were on vacation down in South Carolina at SeaBrook Island. My mother is an artist, and when I was young she worked mostly in water color. She painted a number of portraits of my brother and I, also our foreign exchange students were captured in portrait form as well. I love every single painting she has ever made of me. This is the only one that I own at the moment. She painted the red amaryllis as well.
I love reading other people's blogs - and I was reflecting about the things that I like to see and read. We are all voyeurs to a certain extent, and I thought it'd be fun to take pictures of the art that I have on my walls here in my home and share some of the stories that go with the pieces.
The piece above is a digital collage that my brother made. The dominant image is of our friend Alex DJing. My brother and I are both artists, he made a series of digital collages that are incredible and detailed. There are a few more around our home, as well as illustrations and paintings that the two of us have made over the years.

The truck painting is by my good friend Chris Bibby.

I have a lot of his work around the house. I adore his style and use of color, and the way his sense of humor comes thru in his work.

This building is by Bibby as well, its painted in reverse on the back of the glass in the frame.

I met Bibby at the Portland Saturday Market, there are many amazing artists down there that I have collected from over the years.

Michelle Purvis vends her artwork down at the PSM, she is a prolific painter and I admire her work greatly. I treasure my cube-trees that I got from her years ago.I have two pieces by Lolo (another PSM artist) hanging in my kitchen. Aren't they wonderful.

These colorful doors are by Verone Flood (also a PSM artist), I love how this piece looks with my colorful mobiles! I have a bunch of other photography by Verone, but this post could just go on and on and on...

So I will leave you with just this taste test.

And if you thought this was fun to read... maybe one day I'll try and take pictures of all the mobiles that are hanging around my house... (mobiles are such a pain to take pictures of... but I do have quite the collection... shocking eh?!)

If anyone that reads my blog would like to do the same... and share some stories/artwork that adorns your private life, I would love to read it!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Color Changing Glass

This is very interesting glass.

These two pictures are of the same glass mobile - the glass actually changes color based on the spectrum of light that is hitting it.

I call it chameleon glass, Bullseye Glass calls it "Rhubarb". This name refers to the pink and green tones that the glass shifts between.

The glass looks green when lit by florescent light, pink when lit by incandescent. Sometimes the pieces can look multi-colored. Its really interesting stuff.
I had a little mini mobile like this one hanging in my car for a while - it was incredible, the pieces reflected a lot of different colors. On a beautiful day the bottom edges of the shapes would reflect the blue sky and the horizon, the tops of the pieces would reflect the colors from the road and cars and buildings.

Movement and glass is such an awesome relationship that I attempt to display in my handmade mobiles, and this color of glass really takes things to the next level. I make two small mini mobiles out of scraps of this glass, and larger mobiles to really showcase the color.

Here are some links so you can check them out, if they say they are sold out, look in my shop an you may see I have made more!

Large Champagne Circles
Mini Mobile
Sticky Computer Mobile

The little sticky mobile is a great gift for that geeky loved-one that you never know what to buy for - what makes a better gift than a little bit of handmade goodness!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Playing with Fire

Class last night was a good time! I taught some fused glass artists to play with fire, we made glass embellishments for their fused glass pieces!

The Aquila Glass School has a blog now, I blogged about the class last night.

The Aquila blog will be a way for me (as well as Don and Scott) to post pictures about all the current goings-on at the glass studio. Its a fun quirky place, there is always something going on, now the trick will be getting everyone to take pictures all the time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Halloween Costumes for Dogs

I get to see the cutest dogs - all weekend every weekend at the Portland Saturday Market. This little guy's name is Kai, he was dressed in a pumpkin costume. I had to take a picture, and he came running over to me when he realized I was taking a picture of him. Such a sweetheart.

I don't have a dog. No trouble for me - I get to absorb doggy cuteness every weekend at the market!

Having grown up with a pug (Mr. Puppers), I have a soft spot for pugs. And ooooh boy do I get to see some cute ones every weekend!

The PSM really is a dog owner hang-out spot. There are a few vendors who sell dog treats, dog beds and dog outfits... its also a friendly place to bring a sociable dog to get out and get a whole bunch of attention and be around other dogs and crowds of people. Once a year there is a "Doggie-Dash" which is the local dog oriented river-front race. Its crazy how many cute dogs are there. And they love the Saturday Market. There are soo many people with food around dropping little bits that they can eat. A lot of vendors put out little bowls of water for dogs to drink.

I don't know why I am sharing this, other than the fact that I liked this little dog Kai. He probably had his picture taken by 50 people by the time he left the market, and he loved all of it. You could tell he loved his outfit and all the attention it got him.

I swear I could make a blog that was just about weekend sitings of cute dogs down at the PSM. Seriously. Or maybe just cute pugs down at the PSM :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tool o' the Day: Tube Cutter

This tool is used to cut flexible copper pipe. The copper is soft, so if you were to just cut it the pipe would squeeze shut. Instead you clamp down on the pipe with this crazy tool and go around and around, cinching the tool tighter each time until it breaks the copper. There is a little blade that comes out the side that is used to clean out the inside of your cut. Its pretty neat.

The other day at the hardware store the guy helping me was joking around about how this tool is one of those things you would see in your grandfather's shop and never know what it was for. I love the magazine Cooks Illustrated, so it remind me of the section where they have a reader submit a kitchen tool that they have no idea what it is for... classic "I found this in my grandmother's kitchen tools, but I cannot figure out what it is meant to do...".

So here it is, a copper flexible pipe cutter.

I don't know what I would have thought this was if I found it in my fathers workshop as a kid... perhaps a finger cutter-offer :) eek!

Friday, October 17, 2008

7 Weird Things About Me

I've been tagged.

My good friend Marcy, my trusty-side-kick in the Etsy Glass Artist Street Team - she has tagged me in a cyber-game. Now I must divulge interesting facts about myself... and then tag 7 of my friends to do the same. Hm....

Okay "some random, some weird" here it is, Leah style:

To start with I feel like saying everything about me is weird and unconventional, so where do I start!

- The only bone I have ever broken is the very tip of my left index finger, I fed it thru a sewing machine back in the day hemming the skirt from my junior high school uniform
- I have memories of sucking on raw rhubarb out of the garden as a little girl, and I would munch on raw spaghetti noodles (I don't do either of these things any more)
- I have a crazy scar on my left cornea (my eyeball) from where I put a ski poll thru my glasses as a little girl when I was learning to downhill ski and embedded all sorts of glass in my eye
- I am certified in Thai Massage, practiced for a short bit back when I was living in Philadelphia, and then obtained 2 more levels of certification while studying in Thailand back in 2000
- Back in high school I was part of a team of girls that won a physics competition two years in a row (1st in state 7th in the nation - proof that girls are just as good as boys at math and science)
- I was a judge at the Cannabis Cup back in 1998 in Amsterdam (crazy college days!)
- I have gone Zorbing in New Zealand years ago (flung myself down a hill inside a big plastic ball) heres a picture for your pleasureHeres who I am tagging:

Here's how the cyber-version of tag works;
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Name Suggestions Anyone?

This big guy needs a name. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hollow Pendant Give-Away

Okay so I have been cleaning in my studio... 8 years of being a full time artist can really make the treasures pile up in all nooks and crannies. I found this pendant sitting on a shelf, totally ignored and forgotten. It deserves more love than this!

I made it out of borosilicate hollow tubing that I dropped a spoonful of blue and green frit down inside and melted that in. When I pulled the loop I trapped a bubble of air purposefully. Its a fun pendant. Sorta large, almost 2"long. I don't know what you'll do with it, but I am sure you will love it.

Could be yours! Just leave a comment to enter. I will pick a winner on Oct 30th, 2008.

Anyone can enter to win, you can live in another country and have no blog at all - just make sure I have your email * so that when you win I can contact you to ask for your shipping address.
* If you have a blog then I have no problem contacting you to tell you that you've won. If you do not, then I have no way of knowing who you are and how to contact you. So if you fall into the latter category, Please send your email addy to me at, so that when you win I will have a way to contact you!

And the Winner of the Glass Triangles is....

Its all about the packaging

I love circular things, they make me smile.

I constantly am thinking about how I could improve my packaging. Good packaging really takes a product to the next level.

But these particular Chinese medicinal herbs really have gone the extra mile. These little black bee-bees are a way for the Traditional Chinese Doctor to prescribe herbs for their patients in a palatable form. The herbs taste like foot, so having them in a pill that can just be swallowed with no foul taste, is a wonderful relief from having to drink the herbs as a crazy nasty tea.

This week my doctor sent me home with these "Chicken Eggs" which are simply an elaborate way of packaging the bee-bee medicine pellets. There are 50 or so of these little bee-bees that I take each time, and they are all contained in a little plastic ball (one for each time I take them) and then the plastic ball is inside another plastic ball that is coated in wax and stamped with a gold symbol. To take the pills I have to crack open the wax and pry out the inner ball, open it up and dump the little bee-bees into my mouth.

Crazy eh? Is this the Chinese version of the child-proof-pill-container?

I had to share - the elaborate packaging really blows my mind.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Images Printed on Glass

Yesterday I attended a great workshop at the Bullseye Glass Resource center with Carrie Iverson

The workshop was a quick run thru of Carrie's experience working in printmaking and her exploration into techniques that can be applied on glass. My thanks goes to Bullseye and Carrie Iverson for such a wonderful afternoon!

Not to over-simplify... but basically following printing with oil based inks on float glass she sifts powder onto the glass and it only sticks to the ink. She demonstrated a process of using lazer printed (or photo copied) text and images that she then wet down using a printmaking process and rolled on ink that then only stuck to the toner, then inverted this wet paper onto a smooth sheet of glass and blotted it dry. When she removed the paper she had made a perfect transfer onto the glass. This technique required a few key printmaking supplies and tools, but it was relatively simple. Although Carrie made it look easy from years of experience working in printmaking!

It was interesting to think about this process oriented use of glass. Print right onto the glass, screen printing or letter printing, carved blocks and whatnot, Carrie was just doing it by hand using regular paper and a firm foam sponge to blot and tranfer - heck what about the old potato printing! (do potatoes work with oil based inks) and then sifting powders onto this ink. Its like the old glue and glitter technique. Although I don't like working with powders... gotta get out the respirator and whatnot... kinda dangerous to the lungs... but fine frit may do a decent job (fine frit is a bit heavier than powders, so it tends to not stay airborne and float up to be breathed in by the artist).

Ah... it was a fun day. I got a ride with my friend Jonathan and JeanMark in his infamous car - the Star Cruiser.

I sat next to one of the many light-up parts of the car, my alien friend Roz. It was an awesome ride (thank JeanMark!). I took a bunch of pictures of it, cuz thats what I do :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

a Full Load

Today I monopolized the big kiln at Aquila (my gratitude goes out to the guys) and filled it with Christmas ornaments set on a tack fuse. I fuse the little bow to the tops of the little ornaments so that I can string a little bit of golden ribbon thru the bow that you can use to hang the ornament. The little bows are made out of coe 90 Bullseye glass using a torch.

I plan on taking pictures and starting to list these ornaments in my shop on Etsy asap.

In the picture below you can see an ornament left over from 2006. They are supposed to look like little "packages" so I call the different patterns "wrapping paper". I vary up the colors and whatnot, try different designs and themes. You can see all the little different colored bows in the plastic container waiting to be made into 2008 ornaments. The new wrapping paper this year will be snowflakes. I have also been making rainbow colored ornaments as well to use up scraps of color.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Glass Bamboo

This picture shows a piece that I made on special request for my step-mom Nancy. Both of us loved how this turned out!

Heres the story: she picked out a Chinese scroll down at the Portland Saturday Market, and I then made a glass window hanging based on this scroll.

I used black glass-line paint to put shadows on the ivory "bamboo" and for the brush strokes of the characters that read "Happy Bamboo".

And I used my metal stamp that says "LEAH" on a red blob of glass to sign the piece, sorta playing on the red square signature stamps that the Chinese artists will use.

Last month I received an email from my father with pictures of Nancy crying and a story about how the glass fell out of this frame that he had made when she was cleaning the window. It seems my dad heard her screaming and grabbed a camera to take pictures of her crying. So I told them to mail me the pieces and I would fix and mail it back. No problem.

The glass arrived in 3 pieces. I cut a large piece of clear (about 1/4inch larger than the broken pieces put together) and cleaned everything thoroughly, then re-fired with a good long annealing soak. There is an iridescent film on the back of the original piece, and this film tends to prevent the glass from flowing and it also shows scars really badly - but in the end the irid sort of broke up and swam around a bit on the clear glass that I fused it all to, and you can really barely see the crack at all! Check it out:

This is the piece all fixed. Its a funny picture, because its just propped up in my photo closet, but you can see how well it turned out.

It originally was textured (the leaves of the bamboo were 3-D and the red LEAH signature was as well), now that is all flat, but it looks great and oddly enough if you look close you can still sorta read my name on the red dot.

Etsy Tea Time this Thursday

This Thursday (tomorrow) Oct 9th 2008: I am hosting Tea Time out at the shop

If you have never been, Tea Time is a semi-regular Etsy tradition in my life. There is a blog that has the whole story as well as updates as to where the get-together is held.

If you are an artist that has been considering selling on Etsy, or you have just recently opened your shop, this is a prime chance to talk to people that have Etsy shops and get some tips and tricks. Feel free to bring laptops, there is wireless capability.

Its fun to have tea at the shop, we can talk about Etsy and our shops as well as chat glass and various how-to's in the glass studio.

Oh and its lunchtime - so if you want to bring lunch stuff, its a pot-luck affair. I'm planning on making potato-leek soup (hello Organics to Me!)


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Okay - here ya go - this is one of the projects I worked on this weekend. (I am making lots and lots of Christmas ornaments lately)

I know, you are thinking - thats a craft punch from the crafty-store! And you are thinking - you can use that with glass?!

Yes. Copper is fusible (it expands at relatively similar rates as the glass) and copper foil is relatively easy to work with. One way you can use it is with crafty punches, making letters and shapes and then sandwich these pieces of copper in between sheets of glass.

You must cover the copper in glass, both front and back... basically the glass must completely encapsulate the copper. The copper will turn colors in the kiln... the cause is the heat in the kiln consuming all the oxygen and when this oxygen depleted air comes in contact with the copper the color changes. As the glass melts and the copper is trapped, it stops changing color, however, before the glass starts moving (which doesn't happen until around 1400F) any copper that is exposed to the air in the kiln will change color. In the picture above you can see how the copper changes. This is a big 17" glass bowl, just clear glass, with a big copper circle for the color. You can see how the edge of the copper turns almost black (this is where the oxygen depleted air changed the color of the copper) and towards the center where the air could not get, the copper stayed copper colored.

Copper is not terribly predictable in glass fusing (as the color changes so easily and inconsistently) and sometimes its much more successful than other times (simply due to inconsistency) but seriously its beautiful and do-able and oh-so-tempting.

So go check out your local crafty-store and see what stamps they have. Then find some copper foil and have a blast. Or just cut the copper foil with an exacto blade - that works well too.

Just remember, you must sandwich the copper in between glass, and don't get your hopes up that the copper will look copper colored in the end. It won't. But it will look cool. Oh and try not to get too many finger prints and wrinkles in the copper, all this will show in the finished fused piece of glass (eek!)